What Not to Do When Staining Your Wooden Swing Set

With the upcoming summer, your kids are undoubtedly excited to get outside and spend hours on your wooden swing set. After a season of sun followed by winter, the set could be in rather shabby shape. Precipitation is no friend of wood. If your swing set is looking dry and faded, it’s time to consider treating it. Here’s what not to do when staining your wooden swing set.

All exterior wood needs some attention every few seasons. This protects and refreshes the wooden structures. This can include sheds, decks, porches and swing sets. Swing sets in particular are prone to splintering and cracking due to the movement and dryness incurred over seasonal changes.

While every wooden structure can be restrained and refinished to extend it’s life, there are a few things you should not do when working on a swing set. They are as follows:

Do Not Use the Wrong Kind of Stain

Picking the right stain for your swing set can be more overwhelming than expected. There are a lot of brands and types to choose from with each offering their own benefits.

When you begin shopping for your project, you need to decide if you want to work with a stain or sealant. Most wooden swing sets arrive pre-stained, so the wood is ready to go for the first use. Usually, these stains are just for color and do little to protect the wood underneath. Stains can be used to restore the color of the wood. While they don’t create a protective barrier, they can be used to recreate the luster of the set when it was new.

Sealants are available at most hardware stores for outdoor, wooden structure use. You’ll want to make sure the one you choose has UV protection included with the sealant. While moisture will destroy a wooden swing set outside, the sun isn’t far behind.

Water-based vs Oil-based

Choosing between water-based and oil-based stains and sealants, the choice comes down to preference. Oil-based stains give off heavy fumes but provide a thicker seal on the wood making it more durable. Water-based stains are popular because they have significantly reduced the noxious odors and still provide a rich color to the wood.

Do Not Stain in the Rain

Weather can ruin the best staining jobs. Check the forecast for chances of precipitation for the few hours before and after you plan to work. Too much moisture in the air in the form of dew or rain can cause the stain or sealant to run off before it dries. This means no protection for the wood and a big mess to clean up.

Do Not Stain in Extreme Temperatures

Working in extreme temperatures is not only uncomfortable, it can be bad for the products too. The middle of summer isn’t the best time to be working with smelly fumes outside in the heat. Just like watching for rain and dew, you should be checking the forecast for hot temperatures.

Most sealants and stains need to be applied at temperatures between 50 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The optimum temperature is 70 degrees. While some manufacturers boast that the temperature can be outside of these temperatures, it’s not recommended. Keep yourself and the stain within the ideal temperatures for the best outcome.

Do Not Forget to Cover Your Surface

Stains and sealants can be sticky and cause a mess on the ground. Use drop cloths to cover surfaces below the swing set. Large sheets or plastic tarps can protect the surfaces you don’t want to stain. Surfaces beneath will surely get drips and splatters to make sure you don’t have to spend more time cleaning up later.

Do Not Start at the Bottom

When applying stain and sealant, start at the top of the structure and work your way to the ground. This helps you avoid streaks and drips that occur naturally as you paint on the product. When you work downwards you can swipe these imperfections away before they dry into the finish. Drips and streaks will dry darker than the rest of the color, so be sure to address them while you’re working.

Do Not Let Your Kids Play On It

This is probably the most difficult step. Don’t let the kids on the swingset. Since the optimal time to paint is the same as the best play days, it’s going to be hard to keep the kids off the structure. No matter if you opt for stain or sealants, either can be harmful to kids.

Distract the youngsters with something fun for at least 24 hours while the wooden structure dries. This will also prevent fingerprints and dirty spots from being permanently imprinted into the finish.

While this is a tedious task, doing this sort of sealing or staining every 1-5 years can make the swing set look new and keep it attractive for years to come.

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